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Proposals for Thornton Hall - Ireland’s first mega-prison (Andrew Coyle 2008) - have caused much unease amongst academics and advocacy groups alike. Despite the importance of this shift in direction for Irish penal policy, little is known about the drivers behind change or the factors influencing the rationale behind the development of a prison of this size. This thesis, utilising the methods of policy analysis as developed by Jones and Newburn (2005) appraises the official rationales and thinking behind Ireland’s newest penal policy. The dissertation will specifically focus on the role of policy entrepreneurs, economic drivers, policy transfer and use of evidence in policy-making in the Irish context. Recognising the importance of investigating the policy process in tandem with broader socio-cultural changes, along with this assessment of the mechanics of policy-making, the thesis also analyses the extent to which changing political styles, such as growing punitivism, rhetoric, and symbolic policy making, have had a role in current Irish penal expansion. Finally, the thesis critically appraises the need for the creation of a large prison in Ireland with reference to international literature regarding the effects larger prisons have on prisoners. As such, the thesis assesses whether or not the justifications for Thornton Hall are supported by the weight of academic evidence. Therefore this thesis will contribute to the understanding of what drives current Irish penal policy, as it is the first such assessment of the Thornton Hall, and it employs a policy analysis which is underused in Irish criminology.
Brangan, Louise: Thornton Hall: A Policy Analysis Uncaring or Unthinking?: Masters Dissertation. Dublin, DIT, September 2009.